Australian mammals on brink of extinction calamity 10 February 2015Last updated at 07:58 ET By Helen Briggs Environment Correspondent The endangered northern quoll, a mammal species native to Australia Australia has lost one in ten of its native mammals species over the last 200 years in what conservationists describe as an "extinction calamity". No other nation has had such a high rate of loss of land mammals over this time period, according to scientists at Charles Darwin University, Australia. The decline is mainly due to predation by the feral cat and the red fox, which were introduced from Europe, they say. Large scale fires to manage land are also having an impact. As an affluent nation with a small population, Australia's wildlife should be relatively secure from threats such as habitat loss. But a new survey of Australia's native mammals, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests the scale of the problem is more serious than anticipated. Shy species
Giant snail appears in Brisbane The Giant African Snail found in a Brisbane container yard. Photo: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry A snail the size of a cricket ball and posing a serious threat to Australia’s biosecurity has been destroyed after it was found creeping across a Brisbane container yard. Staff called the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry after finding the large snail crawling across the cement yard. It was a Giant African Snail. A giant African land snail, like this one, was found in Brisbane. The exotic pest has an insatiable appetite and is capable of destroying 500 types of plants including vegetable crops, fruit trees and Australia’s native eucalypts. Advertisement Giant African Snails can live through harsh conditions, growing up to 20 centimetres in length and weighing up to a kilogram. Acting DAFF regional manager Paul Nixon said on Monday officers found no evidence of other snails, eggs or snail trails when they inspected the container yard.
The Cicadas Are Coming! DIY ground thermometer hide captionCicadas live underground and emerge in 13- or 17-year cycles. Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images Cicadas live underground and emerge in 13- or 17-year cycles. Back in 1996, a group of baby cicadas burrowed into soils in the eastern U.S. to lead a quiet life of constant darkness and a diet of roots. We know that when 8 inches below the surfaces reaches 64 degrees F those little buggers will be everywhere, but we don't know when that'll be. Here's what to do: Go to WYNC's website and follow the directions to create your own temperature sensor. The detector costs around $80 in parts and will take about two hours to build. hide captionWNYC is asking "armchair scientists, lovers of nature and DIY makers" to help predict the emergency of cicadas in the Northeast by building a temperature sensor like this one. WNYC is asking "armchair scientists, lovers of nature and DIY makers" to help predict the emergency of cicadas in the Northeast by building a temperature sensor like this one.
Elephant bird Description Size of Aepyornis maximus (centre, in purple) compared to a human, an ostrich (second from right, in maroon), and some non-avian theropoddinosaurs. Each gridline is one meter in height The elephant birds, which were giant ratites native to Madagascar, have been extinct since at least the 17th century. Étienne de Flacourt, a French governor of Madagascar in the 1640s and 1650s, mentions an ostrich-like bird said to inhabit unpopulated regions. The explorer and traveler Marco Polo also mentions very large birds in accounts of his journeys to the East during the 12th and 13th centuries. Species Four species are usually accepted in the genus Aepyornis today; A. hildebrandti, A. gracilis, A. medius and A. maximus, but the validity of some is disputed, with numerous authors treating them all in just one species, A. maximus. Genus Aepyornis Genus Mullerornis Etymology Mullerornis agilis Taxonomy and biogeography Aepyornis maximus restoration Biology
'Extraordinary' flies drawn by sodden city Vinegar Flies. Photo: University of Melbourne Rain and rotting fruit have contributed to Brisbane's plague of what appear to be tiny black fruit flies. The city has soaked up more than 600 millilitres of rain since January 1, prompting what scientists have called an "extraordinary event" of what are in fact "vinegar flies" across south-eastern Queensland. Mike Muller, Brisbane City Council's senior entomologist, has explained the invasion to reporters: "Vinegar flies are drawn to rotting fruit, effectively drawn to the complex sugars and the yeast. "Those little 'fruit flies' as you call them, should effectively be called 'vinegar flies'. Advertisement The flies are different to the traditional Queensland fruit fly, which infects or "blows" the fruit. "They don't actually 'blow' the fruit, like a true Queensland fruit fly," Mr Muller said. "That is the reason why you often find them in your glass of wine, because they are homing in on the alcohol.
Extinct Galapagos Giant Tortoises Could Be Brought Back To Life When Lonesome George died in 2012, it was thought that so did the last Pinta Island giant tortoise. Discovered roaming the rocky island in the Galapagos archipelago on his own in 1972, it was believed that he was the last of his subspecies. Despite a global search to find him a mate, it proved fruitless over the 80 years of his life. Now, Yale researchers think that his DNA might live on (or at least that of his relatives), diluted in hybrid tortoises found on another island descended from tortoises thrown overboard 150 years ago. The tortoises, originally found living on seven of the Galapagos Islands, are divided into 15 subspecies, of which only 11 survive to this day. Divided into two different types depending on the shape of their shell, the tortoises are known as either domed or saddlebacked. Giant galapagos turtle munching on Floreana. But how did the original purebred tortoises get so far from the islands on which they originated?
Higgs boson Higgs boson - 'I think we have it!' Physicists at CERN have declared the particle they discovered last July is without a doubt the long-sought 'God particle' which could help explain the formation of the universe. P 15, 2013 The search is all but over for the so-called God particle that is a crucial building block of the universe. Physicists said on Thursday they believe they have discovered the sub-atomic particle predicted nearly half a century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape. The elusive particle, called a Higgs boson, was predicted in 1964 to help fill in our understanding of the creation of the universe, which many theorise occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang. A representation of traces of a proton-proton collision measured in the search for the Higgs boson. Advertisement
List of recently extinct mammals A large number of prehistoric mammals are extinct, such as Megafauna. See List of prehistoric mammals. This is an incomplete list of historically known extinct mammals, their dates of extinction, and former range. Mammals included are organisms which have been described by science, but which have subsequently become extinct. Many of these animals have become extinct as a result of human hunting, for food or sport, or through the destruction of habitat. Marsupials Sirenians Steller's Sea Cow (1768), Commander Islands Rodents Ungulates Cebu Warty Pig (2000, Philippines) Lagomorphs Proboscids Tubulidentata Bibymalagasia (200 BCE, Madagascar) Soricimorphs Bats Cetaceans Chinese River Dolphin Baiji (2006, China) (officially listed as functionally extinct; it is possible that a few aging individuals still survive) Artiodactyls Aurochs Carnivores Javan Tiger, pictured 1938 Subspecies Primates Koala lemur (1500, Madagascar) See also
Big eyes led to Neanderthal demise › News in Science (ABC Science) News in Science Wednesday, 13 March 2013 Reuters Neanderthals' bigger eyes and bodies meant they had less room in their brains for the higher-level thinking required to form large social groups, a new study says. The finding could explain why they died out and Homo sapiens conquered the planet. Neanderthals lived in parts of Europe, Central Asia and Middle East for up to 300,000 years but vanished from the fossil record about 30,000-40,000 years ago. Why they disappeared is one of the mysteries of anthropology. Now experts from the University of Oxford and the Natural History Museum in London suggest the answer could lie in available brainpower. Neanderthals were stockier than anatomically modern humans who shared the planet with them at the time of their demise, but their brains were the same size, the team write in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Larger eye sockets Humans won out Tags: anthropology-and-sociology, evolution, palaeontology